Milt Kahl

Milt Kahl, answering Richard Williams’ question.

It’s totally wrong to even presume to compare myself to Milt Kahl, but so often in recent weeks, I’ve been reminded of the bit in Richard Williams’ book when he describes asking Kahl if he ever listened to music while animating, and his mentor erupted, claiming he wasn’t “smart enough to think of more than one thing at a time”… I’m feeling like that.

Considering the huge amount I’ve had on my plate with the end of the academic year upon everyone at work, my ability to concentrate on anything of my own has simply gone right down the toilet. I know I should be trying to work in small bits, but in many ways, it’s like when I program: I’m in a place where I need to clear out everything else from my skull for some big chunks of time to be able to do it, because it just takes up every bit of my brain’s capacity to figure things out.  I don’t think it really was that Kahl wasn’t “smart enough” to do it, but that that kind of concentration demands full access to every spare synapse I have, it seems.  I know I get cranky if I’m getting into that zone and something intrudes and demands I divert my attention, even if it’s just a cat, just wanting a little cuddle time: it’s hard work to get into that zone, and when I’m struggling to get into it, it’s a real pain. I can’t imagine ever getting back into it again – although another part of me is certain that I will, since I have done so in the past. I laugh when kids tell me they can “multi-task” – to me, that means one isn’t concentrating, and concentration is the goal.  I don’t think one can concentrate when constantly being interrupted, though. I can’t.

Hence, my motto for the summer, when I will not have people demanding my attention every time I turn around: ANIMATION IS CONCENTRATION.

Richard Williams’ shirt: Animation is Concentration

I’ve started pinning things on the walls around my drawing space, to keep me focused. The reason I was even thinking about Milt Kahl at all was because I ran across this amazing sequence on Sandro Cleuzo’s blog, and I felt like I was just kicked in the head:

Edgar, from The Aristocats, by Milt Kahl

I need to be drawing more, but I come home so exhausted from work, all I want to do is sleep. I need more stuff to keep getting under my skin like this, so I can’t help it, with whatever time I have and don’t have, so I just HAVE to make my stuff BETTER. Crit is in only one week. I have to make the most out of whatever feedback I can get from it on what I’ve done so far with the film, so that when my Kahl-brain finally has a chance to concentrate fully this summer, I can make the absolute most of it.

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